Posted by Ellis Spice on July 22nd, 2014 + Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
It is now Summer, what a wonderful time, so I bring you news, that will mostly rhyme.
Oceanhouse Media want kids to read, whilst home this season, so thus there’s a sale, if you needed a reason. Over twenty apps, now cheaper to get, most down a dollar, others further yet. They’re about science concepts, aimed at ages five to eight, featuring the Cat in the Hat, which is pretty great. They’ll teach your kids, whilst they rhyme, which is pretty impressive, doing both at the same time.
The list of apps can be found below, just in case you wanted to know:
148Apps: What’s the story behind Grammar Girl? What made you decide to embrace that title? Mignon Fogarty (MF): When I was a science editor, I saw my clients making the same mistakes over and over again – little things, such as using “a” when they should use “an” or misusing commas. Podcasting was new at the time, and I decided to also do a quick, simpler writing show because I saw that there were so many people who needed writing help.
Much to my surprise, the Grammar Girl podcast took off right away and essentially took over my life. I worked like crazy for about six months trying to do both Grammar Girl and the science writing and editing, since that work paid my bills, and when I finally got my book deal with Macmillan and we formed the partnership to grow the Quick and Dirty Tips network, I was able to switch to Grammar Girl full time.
The name Grammar Girl just popped into my head and I knew it was perfect right away. I believe it works because of the alliteration and because “girl” is a nonthreatening word. People have a lot of anxiety about their writing, and a lot of the grammar advice out there is delivered in a high-brow or condescending way. Being Grammar Girl sends the message that I’m friendly and approachable.
148Apps: How did Grammar Pop come about? What was the inspiration for creating a game like this? MF: After finishing my last book, I wanted to do something different. People were playing games on their tablets and phones – I was playing games on my tablet and phone – and it seemed obvious to me that there should be a game in which you match words with their parts of speech. In fact, I was incredulous when I looked for such a game and found that it didn’t exist.
So on a plane on my way to Macmillan for a different meeting, I sketched out the initial idea for how I thought the game might work. They wanted to do it, so we went about investigating ways to make it work. I ended up coding it myself with a tool called Game Salad and working with Margo Goody, an artist at Macmillan.
148Apps: How important do you think it is to make learning fun? MF: Grammar Girl is all about making learning fun!
148Apps: What has the feedback from players been like? MF: I get great feedback from parents and teachers who use Grammar Pop and say it has really helped their kids learn parts of speech. It’s not a chore to get their kids to play it; the kids love it and learn parts of speech without even realizing they’re learning.
148Apps: What’s next for the Grammar Pop series of games? Are there any plans for new installments or updates? MF: We came out with a special Winterfest edition for the holidays, and we’re getting bids right now to expand the game with more levels.
Thanks to Mignon Fogarty for taking the time to answer our questions. To find out more about Grammar Girl, check out the Quick and Dirty Tips website.
PBS Kids recently ran a survey on parents and posted results that show that 54% of them plan on purchasing a tech item for their child this holiday season. And that number increases to 59% for the more tech-savvy parents ages 18-34. Tablets are listed as the hot item at the top of the list and they beat-out video game consoles 28% to 18%. The study of over 1,000 surveyed parents with kids between the ages of 2 and 10 also lists that 36% of parents plan to purchase either a tablet or smartphone.
The survey also shows that 77% of parents plan to purchase educational apps for their children as 90% of them stat that educational apps will play an important role in their child’s education.
“There’s a vast and ever-growing population of young children who have ready access to mobile media and, as many parents recognize, that presents an important opportunity to utilize tablets and smartphones to advance children’s learning,” said Lesli Rotenberg, GM of Children’s Programming at PBS, in a press release. “It’s essential that parents think through what kind of apps, online games and video content they make available to their kids. This is one important reason why PBS KIDS has been so innovative in making sure our high-quality, research-based educational content is available across digital platforms to provide a deeper learning experience for today’s learners.”
Other Key PBS KIDS Parent Survey Findings
•Six in 10 parents collaborate with their child to select apps, while a third of parents say they make the choice themselves.
•When selecting games and apps for their children, over half of parents (56%) base their decisions on age recommendations.
•In addition to educational content, 56% of parents pointed to price and 45% cited characters their kids know and love as important factors when choosing apps.
Week-in and week-out, the 148Apps reviewers search through the new apps out there, find the good ones, and write about them in depth. The ones we love become Editor’s Choice, standing out above the many good apps and games with something just a little bit more to offer. Want to see what we’ve been up to this week? Take a look below for a sampling of our latest reviews. And if you want more, be sure to hit our Reviews Archive.
A surprising amount of apps and games like to think that they can change one’s life. In reality, a select few can actually accomplish something that huge. Most of the remaining few might change small elements, such as providing encouragement for those trying to exercise more or give up a bad habit. SuperBetter is part of an even smaller group: it wants to change and improve everything about one’s life. A lofty ambition but one that I reckon it can accomplish, with the willingness of its users. One such glimpse into the importance of SuperBetter comes from this Ted video from game designer, Jane McGonigal, explaining just why the app can help so much. It’s fascinating stuff and ideal context. Essentially, SuperBetter is about turning life into a game. –Jennifer Allen
Oh, look, Layton Brothers Mystery Room. Sounds interesting. The name Layton has pretty much become synonymous with puzzle-solving brilliance. The Professor had a knack for solving most of the world’s problems with a little logic, and that talent has apparently been passed on to his progeny. Alfendi Layton, however, is not his father. Mysteries are still a key feature for this particular Layton’s adventures, however Alfendi and his new assistant Lucy Baker (Detective Constable) are out to solve murder mysteries. Two of which are available for free right from the start and seven more that can be purchased for an additional $5. The each case involves mulling over suspects, inspecting a recreated crime scene (because Alfendi is something of a shut-in), questioning suspects/witnesses, and piecing it all together until a solid accusation can be made. In fact, aside from the world and characters Layton Brothers Mystery Room actually bears little resemblance to earlier games in the series. –Rob Rich
Limbo, the 2010 Xbox Live Arcade release that also made its way to other platforms, has finally come to mobile. For those who have not experienced this haunting puzzle-platformer, this is as good a time as any to jump in. Limbo is dark and mysterious, thanks in part to its silhouetted art style that renders most the world in black and white. There’s little guidance given, as players just kind of have to start running, and taking on the challenges that face them, from tricky jumps to finding ways to dispatch enemies, and avoiding traps. This is very much a horror game, as plenty of opportunities to scare the player are presented. Seriously, this game is nightmare-inducing. The deaths in the game aren’t particularly gory, but they are rather gruesome. That it’s a kid on the receiving end of most of the carnage is part of what makes it unsettling. That, and some of the things that are encountered in the world of Limbo. –Carter Dotson
Other 148Apps Network Sites
If you are looking for the best reviews of kids’ apps and/or Android apps, just head right over to GiggleApps and AndroidRundown. Here are just some of the reviews these sites served up this week:
As some readers may have noticed, I do not personally review many word games. Very few word games gain my attention because I am terrible at these types of puzzles, finding them for the most part frustrating and demoralizing. Therefore, it is quite a compliment from me to have enjoyed reviewing Coolson’s Artisanal Chocolate Alphabet as it is a word game that has won me over with a charming narrative, wonderful sense of style and an abundance of whimsy that I have greatly enjoyed. –Amy Solomon
The Terrifying Building in Eyeville is a thoughtfully written and wonderfully illustrated children’s storybook app. This is a very personal storybook developed by Joel Grondrup as his daughter was diagnosed with retinoblastoma, a rare cancer of the retina. The Terrifying Building in Eyeville is an allegory for this cancer as a small man named Kanser arrives in Eyetown after falling off the back of a truck during a rain storm. He knocks on the door of Mr. Nice and asks if he can start building onto Mr. Nice’s home as he is a traveling builder who looks for houses to build onto. –Amy Solomon
The best games, for me, are ones that are simple, easy to control and, more or less mildly infuriating. It’s why I pulled my hair, shedding years while playing Super Hexagon. It’s probably why I find Space is Key so intriguing. It mocks me. To my face. It’s evil. Space is Key is about as simple as they come. Looks-wise, it uses switching primary colors with opposing hues to highlight obstacles. The color changes do an interesting job of creating a psychedelic atmosphere reminiscent of Super Hexagon that doesn’t internet with the gameplay. –Tre Lawrence
Warmly is an atypical productivity offering from The Chaos Collective that seemingly wants to make the descriptive term “alarm” a misnomer by changing the way we do alarms and wake patterns in the first place. The opening user interface is a clear cut celebration of simplicity, and hints at the design elements that govern the entire app. It gives a scroll-through window for setting the time (with an AM/PM toggle), and nine (9) big square buttons. After a scheduling check-off and an off and ok button, THAT’S IT. Laid against the soothing yellow backdrop, the relatively minimalist viewers are hard not to like. –Tre Lawrence
Nevosoft’s LandGrabbers is a fun hybrid game that is surprisingly dependent on strategy and quick thinking. The land that makes up this game is ably represented by effective graphics the encompass several mythical environments. In the first stage, the 3D graphics do a good job of giving life to the structures, and further down the line, the scenery becomes even more intricate; rolling hills, stone bridges and shrubbery all add up to cushion the action in a reasonable looking shell. –Tre Lawrence
This week at 148Apps.com all eyes were still pointed at Firemint’s upcoming Real Racing 3. Site founder Jeff Scott writes, “Sister site Pocket Gamer editor Richard Brown discovered that Real Racing 3 is showing up in Game Center. The good news is that means it’s been approved by Apple and it can’t be long before the release now. While it’s not out yet, this does bring up something interesting. Something I noticed in the Game Center achievements lends a little to the accuracy of rumors and theories I’ve been hearing that Real Racing 3 will be released as a free to play game.
Last week we took you through a three part series about the history of the App Store icon, Real Racing. Rob Rich covered the history and design of the first two games in the series. He also covered time-shifted multiplayer and other new features expected in Real Racing 3. An excellent series and well worth a read. One thing we didn’t cover is how the game will be monetized as it has yet to be announced. That monetization method is likely to have huge implications on how the game is received by the fans of the series.”
GiggleApps.com writer Amy Solomon contributed a review of Whack A Bone: “Whack A Bone is a wonderful app for iPad that is truly an educational delight, teaching about the anatomy of bones found in the human body.
Nicely sectioned into groups, users will learn about the bones that make up one’s core, such as cranium, sternum or vertebrae which is grouped here into three different categories – cervical, thoracic and lumbar, as well as the arm and leg bones, each consisting of its own section as well.
To play this pirate-themed anatomy game, place the bones from the different sections back to their rightful places inside a skeleton with the direction of a talking parrot whose attitude kids will find witty and fun.”
iPad Only App - Designed for the iPad
Released: 2012-11-27 :: Category: Education
And what week would be complete without a KickStarter Spotlight on AndroidRundown.com. This week, writer Joseph Bertolini focuses on Freedom Planet: “It has been a while since we have really taken an in depth look to one of the fields in which KickStarter has benefited the most; indie game developers. As most everyone knows, indie game sales have exploded over the last few years; bolstered by better distribution methods like Steam and a more willing Sony and Microsoft. It goes without saying that a strong indie market is one of the most important factors to a great gaming industry. Recognizing this, our choice for this week’s KickStarter Spotlight is Freedom Planet, a game that will harken strongly back to the days when Sonic and MegaMan were dominating the console market.”
This week at 148Apps.com, we took a closer look at what may be the future of Disney Interactive Entertainment: Disney Infinity. Site founder Jeff Scott writes, “Disney Infinity will be a multi-property, multi-platform exploration game which will let you can combine various Disney characters and worlds to use your imagination to the fullest. It will be a combination of real world toys and video games, similar to Skylanders, but taken to the extreme. For example, in Disney Infinity you can answer the question: who would win a race between Lightning McQueen from Cars and Dash from The Incredibles?
This is both good and bad news for iOS users. While the mobile part of Disney Infinity will be initially limited to so-called support apps, it will evolve over 2013 to a full Disney Infinity platform, though we are still trying to get details on that.”
Over at GiggleApps.com, Amy Solomon reviewed My Beastly ABCs, saying, “I really appreciate not only the colorful look of this app, complete with wonderful illustrations and mild animated moments containing both a vintage sense of style as well as a modern look and feel, but also the pitch-perfect use of suspenseful, jazzy music and perfectly realized narration by celebrated voice-over artist Jim Dale as well.”
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Released: 2012-12-06 :: Category: Books
And what week would be complete without a new KickStarter spotlight from AndroidRundown.com? Joseph Bertolini writes, “I just wrote an app review about an app that really helps me keep my life organized called Catch Notes. In that post I talk about the struggles I – like millions of other people – have with remembering events and to-do items. Apps in this space are generally very similar and are just slightly different iterations of the same thing; the idea stays consistent and there is very little motivation to pay attention to them. This is most apparent when trying to work on bad habits or trying to start new good ones. This is not going to be a cheesy New Year’s post, but the best way to change for the better is to work on the small things instead of trying to make large drastic changes. Since the biggest problem with existing apps is that there is a lack of motivation to continue checking them, and the medium that has most mastered this addictive motivation are video games, it was only a matter of time before there was a hybrid love-child of the two. This chimera is one of the more creative KickStarter projects we have done here, and it is called HabitRPG.”
Fans of PBS Kids TV show Cyberchase will be delighted to see the arrival of Cyberchase: Ruckus Reader, an iPad app aimed at continuing the educational fun that the TV show is so famous for.
Aimed at 5-8 year olds, Cyberchase: Ruckus Reader offers a new story for fans to delve into, following an exciting problem that Hacker has left the Cybersquad with. Three hours of puzzles are promised as players set out to save Solaria from being transformed into a garbage dump.
Puzzles range from word hunts, spot what’s wrong with the picture, mazes, and create your own story sections. Topics that are taught include things such as alphabetical knowledge, phonological awareness, phonics and word recognition, as well as reading comprehension.
Together, it should prove an educational yet highly entertaining experience for kids.
Cyberchase: Ruckus Reader is available now for free, with an in-app purchase of $3.99 to unlock one story, or $5.99 to unlock both.
It’s fantastic that DSLR cameras are much more affordable nowadays, ensuring that amateur photography fans are able to pick such a camera up. The problem is that there is still a ton to learn about using them effectively. It’s a huge leap up from a compact camera and can get intimidating.
Fortunately, there’s a new app out that aims to make things easier and aid users in learning how to use a DSLR correctly. That app is PhotoLawn.
PhotoLawn teaches things a little differently from other educational tools. Focusing on the visual aspect of photography, the app presents photos from Flickr, while displaying the shutter speed, exposure, ISO and more, all in an easy to understand manner.
Everything is laid out as part of an animated grid of thumbnail photos from the popular photo sharing site, making it simple to see what’s going on and adapt accordingly. Even better, it doubles up as a great way to browse Flickr and be inspired.
PhotoLawn is free to download with further features such as favorites, mapping and social options, unlockable with a $1.99 in-app purchase.
I think there was a moment in my late childhood when my dad really wanted me to understand how cars work. I didn’t pay much attention, honestly, as I was generally lost in my own little world throughout my days of kid-dom. Today, though, there are times when I really wish I had paid more careful attention to the lessons of my youth. And that’s where How Cars Work comes in. Simply put, it’s an instructional app that teaches…yep…how cars work. From steering and suspension to powertrain and braking, pretty much all of the basics are covered in this tidy little app.
Now, in version 1.3.0, developer Aymen Alshawi has added a basic maintenance section to help those who may not know how to perform basic maintenance like changing a tire on their vehicle. It’s a handy and quick way to find information if it’s needed in an emergency, and while all makes and models are different, this app covers the basics that apply to pretty much every vehicle. And more is on the way in future update, including a guide to vehicle modifications.
Make up for those lost lessons of youth and learn a little more about your car with How Cars Work.
Storytelling is a great way of teaching kids things about other cultures, while still making them feel as if they’re having fun rather than just learning stuff. The Magnificent Travelling Palace is one such app that both educates and entertains.
The app follows a magical adventure story through the eyes of four children. Throughout the tale, the book embraces the splendour of Indian culture while remaining fun for kids. It comes with a recipe for an Indian dessert as well as interactive elements allowing kids to join in with the storytelling experience.
Visually, children can enjoy the 26 3D computer illustrations and animations, while their ears will enjoy the delightful musical score.
Created by a mother who knows what it’s like, The Magnificent Travelling Palace should prove a fun yet educational app for every keen young reader.
The Magnificent Travelling Palace is out now for the iPad and priced at $1.99.